Fewer food inspections and a salmonella outbreak. People having trouble accessing food stamps money. South Dakota cattle ranchers who couldn't get help from a early season blizzard. A White House organic garden that can be watered, but not weeded.
These are some of the obvious signs of what happened with a government shutdown over the last 2 plus weeks.
Then there are the anecdotal stories, such as the farmers market that was shut down thanks to the government shutdown. More on that later.
Some Americans might be thinking, "The government shutdown didn't affect me personally." If you had become sick from the salmonella, your story would be different. But you might know someone who was affected, and not know it.
This isn't to say that the government does everything well when it comes to dealing with the food supply. Not. Even. Close. But there are a lot of hard-working people who do make things better.
Federal food inspectors can't have a fun job, with huge pressures and clearly understaffed groups trying to battle a corporate structure that often treats food as a line on an expense report.
Those already struggling to put food on the table, going against their previous beliefs and actually asking for assistance while underemployed or unemployed, having to struggle more in the last two weeks.
The hope, slight as this might be, is that people would appreciate how government can positively affect the food supply. However, the people who engineered the government shutdown don't think the government has a place in the food supply.
Then there is the story where the government stepped in to stop a farmers market.
Reports I received from farmers was that Homeland Security wouldn't allow the Tuesday market at Federal Plaza in Chicago to set up this week because they were worried about protesters. Then again, if they allowed the farmers to set up, tomato sales would have gone through the roof.
But seriously, the story doesn't pass the initial smell test. Not that I don't trust the fine folks at Homeland Security, but there are a few problems with this scenario.
- No protesters actually showed up on Tuesday.
- We had two previous Tuesdays during the government shutdown where there was no protesters.
- Even if protesters had shown up, the farmers wouldn't have been in any danger.
- Protesters have shown up in and around Federal Plaza on various Tuesdays all this summer and hadn't been an issue for the farmers.
Farmers lost money and valuable opportunity to sell their limited quality wares without a legitimate purpose. If the farmers weren't allowed to set up on Federal Plaza because of the shutdown, even though the post office, also at Federal Plaza, was open the whole time, well that would be silly. But just as silly as not being able to weed the White House organic garden.
To be fair, perhaps Homeland Security got a false lead on a protest. Or that was a ruse for something more serious. Or maybe that is all BS. I will be more than glad to update this story as conditions warrant.
In a country where 300 million people live, a government shutdown will produce a lot of short-term victims, especially when it comes to the food supply. And while some of those victims may seem invisible to some, their wounds still exist.